The Struggle is Real – Keeping a Clean Home While Managing a Chronic Disease

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Some people are super driven to keep a clean home and find the cleaning process effortless. Others, like me, struggle with wanting to take time to clean and organize, especially with chronic illness.

There’s so many more interesting things to do than clean, right?

But the fact is, a clean home is important for both health and sanity. Feeling like your home is unclean and disorganized is quite stressful mentally.

That fact is compounded when you have an autoimmune disease!

Fatigue and brain fog are often symptoms that develop with a chronic autoimmune disorder.

Those symptoms make cleaning and organizing more difficult.

When your body is busy fighting itself with chronic pain, chronic illness, or other issues, the last thing you want to do is spend valuable time cleaning and organizing.

But that’s exactly why you need to develop a solid cleaning and organizing routine. 

That way, if you’re in the middle of a flare, you don’t have that added stress of a sink full of dishes staring at you every time you glance over to the kitchen.

Or the irritation of dust bunnies floating down the hallway.

Or, even worse, the potential health triggers that can arise from a bathroom in desperate need of a cleaning!

Kitchen Sink with Few Dishes

Cut Down on Available Dishes and Utensils

One of the first changes we made when my husband started dealing with chronic back pain was to cut down the amount of dishes and silverware we kept in the cabinets.

Now, I was kind of resistant to this change…okay, I’m fairly resistant to most changes. Stability is huge for me!.

But he was struggling with standing for more than 5 minutes at a time, and I was dealing with brain fog and fatigue from Sjogren’s Syndrome that had yet to be diagnosed.

So we made the change by keeping just the essentials in the cabinet that could be easily cleaned in just a few minutes.

We kept 4 plates, bowls, forks, knives, and spoons.

We each have a designated coffee cup and water cup.

The rest is kept out of easy reach in upper cabinets or in a box in the garage so we can pull it out if we have guests. 

This has been an amazing improvement to both our lives!

It is semi-irritating when it’s dinnertime and all the dishes are in the sink from lunch.

However, since it only takes a few minutes to wash them all, it’s honestly amazing to not face a huge pile of them in the sink!

Stop Using A Dishwasher

This kind of goes in hand with the above tip. Loading the dishwasher is a great way to hide all those dishes.

But it seems like unless you have a new, fancy dishwasher, they need a decent amount of pre-washing.

And then when the wash is finished and it’s time to put them away, I absolutely dread it! 

Now we’ve cut down and don’t use the dishwasher at all. I don’t miss it in the slightest!

Give it a shot and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much easier the dishes are to manage once you’ve cut down.

Buy a High-Quality Kitchen Mat

Even though you’ll be spending less time standing in front of dirty dishes, being stationary can be hard on your joints and back.

A well-cushioned anti-fatigue kitchen mat helps keep you comfortable while knocking out those dishes. Here’s a link to a bunch of great options on Amazon!

Lower Your Standards A Bit

We all love a sparkling clean home, but the process of getting it there and then maintaining it is just…a lot.

You may just need to take your standards down a notch.

While keeping the house clean is important, those freshly-tracked puppy prints from rain or snow don’t necessarily need to end in a full floor mopping.

Handprints on windows? Let it slide for an extra day or two!

Maintain What Irritates You Most

We all have those areas that drive us crazy when they’re not perfectly clean. For me, it’s the sinks and the bathroom.

For my husband, it’s our coffee/tea bar and laundry room, since that’s where we first enter the house from the garage. 

Since those areas bother us the most, we maintain them more often and make it as easy as possible to do so. 

Find the areas that annoy you the most when they haven’t been cleaned or get cluttered.

If your area is the bathroom, like mine is, keep a set of cleaning supplies readily available in each bathroom.

Make it super easy for anyone in the family to do a quick swipe of the counters and sinks.

Keep toilet cleaner or vinegar handy and drop a bit in and swish it around daily to avoid having to intensely scrub it every week or two.

Plan Your To-Do List

Since those areas that bother us don’t need as much intense work, write out your to-do list with those other tasks you know need to be completed less frequently.

Things like dust the furniture, wash bedding, vacuum, or do a load of laundry. 

Checking those items off your list will give you a nice little energy boost!

Don’t Overdo It

You know those days that you wake up ready to tackle the world?

You get in a groove and suddenly decide to jump headfirst into a marathon cleaning session since you know how rare those days are.

Which seems like a great plan, until you make it halfway through and hit a brick wall of fatigue.

Even worse, that sends you into a flare and you feel like a hot mess the next few days/weeks.

That spiral downward? Yeah, let’s avoid that, k? It actually leads to us being less productive overall when it makes us flare afterward!

Try the Pomodoro Technique

Have you heard about the Pomodoro Technique?

It’s a method of time management, and not a pasta sauce!

It was actually created by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s and named after a tomato kitchen timer he had in his kitchen!

Essentially, the Pomodoro Technique is to set a timer for 25 minutes, and get to work on your tasks.

Once the timer goes off, stop and take a break for 5 minutes.

Repeat that cycle a few times, with a longer break of around 30 minutes after 4 Pomodoro sessions. 

This technique is perfect for those of us with fatigue and brain fog!

The short breaks allow us to rebuild a bit of our energy and evaluate how we’re feeling without getting too deep into a project.

If we sense we’re nearing the end of our energy levels, we can use the next session to wrap things up and call it a day without getting terribly exhausted!

Enlist Help From the Family

A good motto to have when it comes to cleaning the home is everyone lives here so everyone has to help out.

When given age-appropriate cleaning and organizing tasks, even little ones can help make the home cleaner and more organized.

If you have a task you absolutely hate, why not delegate it to someone who doesn’t mind it?

Or if it’s something that frees you to do a different task, hand it off. Vacuuming is a great example. 

My husband doesn’t mind vacuuming, and him taking it over frees me up to get the loads of laundry in the wash and dryer in the most efficient manner – I insist on washing bed sheets and mattress protectors first, then comforters second!

Go Minimalist

When you have less clutter, you feel less drained and there’s less items to clean!

We started with getting rid of our junk drawer, which was just a drain to open up and hide things in. 

Look around and if you see areas of clutter that aren’t making you happy, condense it down.

Take a handful of items and place in a box.

If you don’t miss them in a week or two, get rid of it!

If it’s in good condition, donate it to a local charity or thrift store. If it’s not? Trash it and don’t think about it again.

Eventually, as you get into downsizing, you’ll find yourself evaluating every purchase to determine if you really need it.

Which makes this even better for your home and your wallet!

help for cleaning with chronic illness

Hire Help for Deep Cleaning

Now, I know this may not be something everyone can afford. But if you’ve been struggling to get the deep cleaning done, definitely look into hiring someone to tackle those tasks you absolutely cannot manage.

Things like deep scrubs of the bathtub, cleaning windows, and getting down into crevices are super difficult to get to.

Hiring someone to knock those out once every month or two could be a huge relief both mentally and physically!

Have a Relaxing Treat After Cleaning

Giving yourself something to look forward to after cleaning helps keep your motivation up. It also helps you unwind after!

Plan to catch an episode of your favorite Netflix show or brew a cup of tea.

Maybe even take a bath with a bubbly bath bomb or epsom salt to soothe any aches that arise.

Do you have a tried-and-true method for maintaining a clean home while managing a chronic illness? Share with us below!

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